Tiki drinks, pupu platters, and a side of bread_ how chinese restaurants came to embrace polynesian kitsch – the boston globe

There are certain facts of life that those who grow up in Massachusetts accept without question. Wicker park chicago Package stores sell liquor. Spring training 2016 arizona “Frappe” is the proper word for milkshake. Lattice energy periodic table And Chinese food often comes with a side of bread and tiki flair.

With Chinese New Year celebrations beginning this week, families will sit down to feasts of steamed fish, rice cakes, and other dishes that bear little resemblance to those served at restaurants that long flourished on the local landscape: self-described Chinese-Polynesian places like Aku-Aku Islander off I-290 in Worcester, a now-defunct tiki lounge-slash-comedy club. Baseball teams in new york Luau Hale in Lenox. Fence minecraft gate South Pacific in Newton, which closed in 2012 but had enough of a following to spawn its own memorial page on Facebook. High pitch eric Tiki Port on Cape Cod. Driveway sealing drying times Huke Lau in Chicopee. Basketball games nba And, of course, Kowloon in Saugus, the enduring success story that seats 1,200 and was recently instated into the Massachusetts Restaurant Association Hall of Fame.

At Chopsticks in Worcester, my first favorite Chinese restaurant, the big-ticket item was always the pupu platter, the compartment tray of fried and greasy snacks with a flaming Sterno in the middle, perfect for warming skewers of beef teriyaki, then lighting the skewers on fire. Wadding The smorgasbord also included hot-pink barbecued spare ribs (the best), aggressively battered fried chicken (insipid), wings (standard), and crab Rangoon (eh). Football teams in florida And, of course, there were the drinks. Garden inspiration ideas Every menu devoted a page to photos of fruity, flamboyant cocktails served in tiki-head cups, faux pineapples and coconuts, and volcano bowls, basically flammable soup tureens for 151-proof rum. Fencing equipment names The names dazzled: Mai Tai, Scorpion Bowl, Fog Cutter, Zombie, Suffering Bastard.

So how did this version of the Chinese restaurant come to be? The answer is complex, informed by business savvy, suburban race relations, America’s obsession with the Asian Pacific, and a midcentury fondness for dinner as entertainment.

“My grandparents originally had 50 seats back in 1950, when the restaurant was called the Mandarin House,” says Bob Wong, one of Kowloon’s third-generation owners. Pinch hitter 2 hacked His parents, William and Madeline Wong, took over the business in 1958. Lattice energy table William had traveled to Florida and Hawaii and, having seen the Polynesian craze firsthand, decided to reboot Mandarin House as Kowloon Restaurant. Landscaping ideas for front of house The new place included a tiki lounge, dishes like flaming ambrosia, and a Hawaiian band with dancing seven nights a week.

But the blithely inauthentic Polynesian-Chinese hybrids were more than just kitsch. Fences download free “Mass suburbanization happened across the United States, and that’s a critical part of this story,” says Mark Padoongpatt, assistant professor of Asian and Asian-American Studies at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Landscape architecture jobs “Developments restricted people of color from moving into those neighborhoods. Little league baseball world series Whiteness becomes synonymous with suburbia.”

It was in this environment, says Padoongpatt, that suburban tiki lounges became a form of entertainment catering specifically to a white, middle-class clientele. Pinch hitter 4 “This is where they’re allowed to encounter Asians, and the idea of Asia and the Pacific, in a very contained way, not in public, not out in cities or in urban areas,” says Padoongpatt. How to play softball “This is a safe way for them to interact with an ‘exotic’ culture.”

Irene Li, co-owner of Chinese-American food truck and restaurant Mei Mei, knows these restaurants from her childhood, and can appreciate what makes them pleasurable and problematic. Cobblestone inn “I think at this point we experience Polynesian food knowing that it is a bizarre, anachronistic, carefully curated mashup of lots of things, some Asian and some not,” says Li. Garden of eden lyrics “But in that the still-existing restaurants haven’t changed much in decades, there is a charming, earnest, authentic kind of inauthenticity.”

Decades after the trend first hit, there is a fresh appetite for tiki. Ncaa basketball championship highlights Adding to the legions of OG enthusiasts (see tikiroom.com), a comeback is cresting under the auspices of the craft cocktail movement, with newer establishments like the Baldwin Bar, Café ArtScience, Shojo, and Tiger Mama serving lovingly made tiki creations. Winter landscape Wong, too, has noticed the renewed enthusiasm, and is ramping up the old-school offerings at Kowloon, which, over the decades, has added Sichuan, Thai, and sushi chefs, plus a comedy club, to keep up with changing tastes.

Wong put more tiki drinks on the menu, is selling branded barware on Kowloon’s website, and has restored some of the interior flourishes to their original sparkle. Fastpitch softball rules “Whether the customer base thinks it’s new and exciting or something old that’s being recycled again, we’ll see,” he says. Garden of the gods trading post “It’s not like we just opened a new tiki bar in the middle of Boston. Uga softball schedule 2016 We’ve been here 66 years.”